(Daily Mail UK) – Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft’s daughter-in-law has been being quizzed by police over the fatal shooting of a senior police officer with his own gun.
American Jasmine Hartin Ashcroft was held after the lifeless body of police chief Henry Jemmott was found floating in the sea in Belize, on the eastern coast of Central America.
Locals heard a single gunshot ring out into the night and Superintendent Jemmott, a married family man, was found with a fatal wound to his head, behind his right ear, with his gun nearby.
When officers arrived, an ’emotional’ Mrs Ashcroft was on the pier above the water with her arms and clothes stained with blood, Belize police commissioner Chester Williams said.
Mrs Ashcroft, a former estate agent, is married to the leading Tory donor’s son, and the couple live in the Caribbean nation, where they launched a luxury hotel together.
Andrew, 43, is the youngest of Lord Ashcroft’s three children from his first marriage and is a citizen of Belize, where he lives and works with Jasmine in San Pedro, the main town on the island of Amergris Caye.
It lies off the coast of Belize and is a popular holiday destination.
According to reports, Superintendent Jemmott’s body was discovered in a dock area of San Pedro having been shot dead in the early hours of Friday morning.
Police are investigating whether the officer was shot, whether he could have shot himself or whether it was an accident, Commissioner Chester Williams said, and were keeping ‘an open mind’.
He added: ‘We have to keep an open mind in the investigation. But there is no suggestion to say there is any third actor. Inspection of the body should tell us a lot in terms of proximity and trajectory which will assist in determining the distance from which the shot was fired as well as whether or not Mr Jemmott could have caused his own injury or it was caused by someone in his close proximity.’
Mr Jemmott’s service weapon was found nearby. The officer had requested ‘personal leave’ from the police before the incident.
Commissioner Williams said: ‘From what we have gathered so far Mr Jemmott and a female, one Jasmine, were socialising on a pier somewhere in San Pedro. This was after 12.30am which was [Covid] curfew time.
‘One single gunshot was heard. And upon investigating police found the female on a pier. And she had what appeared to be blood on her arms and her clothing.
‘A firearm was also seen. That has been retrieved. The firearm belonged to the police and was assigned to Mr Jemmott, so he had it on him at the time.
‘And inside the waters right near the pier police recovered the lifeless body of Mr Jemmott with one apparent gunshot wound behind the right ear.
‘He was taken to the San Pedro clinic where he was found dead on arrival. Currently, we have Miss Jasmine Ashcroft in custody and she is being investigated in the shooting of Mr Jemmott.’
The police commissioner said Mrs Ashcroft ‘was somewhat in an emotional state’ when she was found on the pier and was later taken into custody.
Forensic tests were not carried out to swab her for gunshot residue, he said, and she had not initially co-operated with police. Lawyers were last night flying into Belize to represent her.
‘She was not co-operating,’ the police chief said. ‘She requested that she needed to have an attorney present in order for her to say what she wants to say, which is part of her rights.’
There was no surveillance footage from CCTV cameras available, Commissioner Williams told the media briefing.
He added: ‘They were alone on the pier and were fully clothed. I cannot say the nature of the relationship. Only they can say. We know they are friends.’
A curfew is in place between midnight and 5am as part of the island’s Covid restrictions but officers have interviewed people in the area in case they witnessed anything.
Lord Ashcroft did not respond to a request for comment.
Superintendent Jemmott was commander of precinct two in Belize City, the largest city in the Central American country.
Lord Ashcroft has extensive business interests in Belize with his son Andrew recently responsible for overseeing the development of a luxury resort on Amergris Caye called Alaia Belize.
Made up of lavish beach front condos, it states on its website that Andrew is a citizen of Belize and has ties going back to the country for ‘generations,’ while Jasmine Hartin is described as his wife who is the project’s Director of Lifestyle and Experience.
It also stated that Andrew is a former director of the British Caribbean Bank and has been responsible for funding a number of high-profile real estate developments in Belize and the surrounding region.
Referring to Jasmine, it states: ‘Along with her husband, Andrew Ashcroft, Jasmine has played an integral role in shaping the vision for Alaia Belize from the very beginning.
‘Her passion for Belize and her appreciation for the local nature and culture have been guiding forces as she has collaborated with the entire development team on every aspect of the experience, from the master plan and amenity curation to interiors and social programming.’